At Wednesday’s sentencing, Gonzalez’s lawyer, David Sisselman, said his client suffered brain damage after being shot in the riots. Gonzalez himself tearfully admitted he became an alcoholic by age 25, racking up a staggering 15 convictions, most for drunk-driving and serious traffic offenses, over the years.
His sister, Clara del Pozo, said Gonzalez had black friends, and had even been rushed to the hospital by a black family when he was shot during the riots.
“The way we were brought up in Cuba, everybody is the same,” she told the judge. “Here it was the same. Luis never showed he was a racist.”
The key testimony Wednesday came Dunn’s report. In his report, Dunn — a psychologist, race-relations expert and professor at Florida International University — said the hate-crime law could not be applied fairly in all cases.
Dunn noted that many more African Americans use the n -word as a “term of endearment” to each other, and use of the word by any other race amounts to “free speech” and should not be subject to prosecution.
“Has a black person in Miami-Dade County ever been prosecuted for acting with prejudice against a white person or is this violation of this law a risk to which only whites can be subjected?” Dunn asked.
The professor also questioned whether Gonzalez could even be categorized as white — because many Hispanics have “Spanish blood saturated with African blood.”
Dunn, who will earn about $1,500 for his report because he was hired by the defense as an expert witness, has served as a witness in over 20 criminal cases.
Miami-Dade prosecutors Breezye Telfair and Manolo Reboso asked the judge to sentence Gonzalez to 30 years in prison. They said they respected Rodriguez-Chomat’s decision.
“The victims in this case have always expressed forgiveness in their hearts for Luis Gonzalez and today the judge showed him mercy,” Telfair said.